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Leaked Text Messages Prompt Push to Delay New Police Chief in Berkeley

There is a cloud hanging over the confirmation of Berkeley’s interim police chief.

Leaked texts are alleging a police officer made disparaging remarks about the unhoused and people of color and now, a battle is brewing over what the chief may have known about it.

“I don’t think we’re at a point where anyone could have public confidence in appointing a chief without knowing the full facts of these allegations,” said Nathan Mizell, the vice chair of Berkeley’s Police Accountability Board.

He is concerned about Tuesday’s confirmation vote to make Interim Berkeley Police Chief Jennifer Louis the permanent top cop.

He said allegations that a member of the Police Officers Association made negative comments about the unhoused and people of color are giving him pause.

“I can’t speculate if she knew, she didn’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if city managers knew or didn’t know.”

What he does know is that a former Berkeley police officer, who was terminated for unknown reasons last year, is leaking text messages to Berkeley city officials.

NBC Bay Area got a hold of the screen shots when they were made public by the advocacy group Secure Justice. Mizell said they contain language unfit for a police officer.

“There was one remark that said homeless folks could be wiped out by some sort of strain and BPD bike force would ride by the bodies,” said Mizell.

He said he’s also seen comments second hand that were racially offensive.

The city of Berkeley released a statement calling the allegations very disturbing, saying, “We take them very seriously. We will be hiring an external investigator to verify and investigate any and all documentation and allegations arising from the complaint.”

Louis is also weighing in, saying she is making it clear that if the allegations are true, “none of the alleged incidents occurred underneath my supervision.”

A police chief confirmation vote is set for Tuesday evening.

The police accountability board plans to meet before that.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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